HOUMA– September is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month, bringing attention to vascular disease in the legs. Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS) diagnoses and treats this condition, marked by leg pain or cramping.
PAD occurs when peripheral arteries, most commonly in the legs, have plaque build-up or blockages, restricting blood flow. These blockages keep extremities and organs from receiving oxygenated blood. Just like clogged arteries in the heart, blocked arteries in the legs raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
One in 20 Americans over the age of 50 has PAD, but many do not recognize the symptoms, or realize they should see a cardiologist for treatment. PAD is a common condition; however if left untreated, it can affect quality of life and lead to amputation. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most patients can manage the symptoms of PAD and avoid amputation or heart attacks.
Symptoms of PAD include:
- Ulcers/wounds that won’t heal
- Pain or cramping in the legs
- Discoloration of the legs/feet
- Numbness or coldness in the legs/feet
- Slow hair growth on the legs
- Weak pulse in the legs
- Pale, shiny skin
Those who are most at risk for PAD include anyone over the age of 50, especially African Americans; those who smoke or have smoked; and those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or a personal or family history of vascular disease, heart attack, or stroke.
A simple, painless ultrasound can test the blood flow in your legs to determine your risk of PAD. In honor of PAD Month, CIS is hosting free screening events at select locations. View the list of events. Learn more about PAD here or schedule an appointment at a CIS location near you by clicking below.